Posts Tagged ‘Sedition’

Stop the witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir and repeal the draconian UAPA

April 25, 2020

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) endorses and forwards statement issued by Campaign Against State Repression calling upon the authorities to stop witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir and repeal the draconian Unlaful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

April 24th 2020: Over the last two weeks, across New Delhi, numerous activists and students have been targeted and harassed by the Delhi Police. Operating under an open-ended FIR, the police are attempting to accuse these persons, many of whom are engaged in providing indispensable relief work to workers and people bereft of food and other supplies due to the ill-planned COVID-19 induced lockdown, of instigating and executing the violence that engulfed North East Delhi in late February 2020. Three activists, Meeran Haidar and Safoora Zargar of Jamia Millia Islamia and Umar Khalid, former student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, have now been charged under several sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC).

These charges must not be seen as isolation. Rather, they are continuation of the numerous methods by which the State has sought to crush the vibrant struggle for democratic rights that emerged from the opposition to the communally charged and anti-people Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registry of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). It must be noted here that by accusing these persons of orchestrating the violence in North East Delhi, the State is in fact perpetrating an absolute travesty of justice.

That the violence which wracked North East Delhi was orchestrated is indisputable. However, its real perpetrators and planners not only remain free but also bask under the protection of the police and the administration. BJP leaders like Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra and Ragini Tiwari who have been recorded making inflammatory and communally charged speeches, urging violence against Muslims and all those opposing the CAA, NRC and NPR have not even been questioned. The numerous RSS and Bajrang Dal karyakartas involved in mobilising and leading the Hindutva mob that ransacked North East Delhi remain unprosecuted. The innumerable police personnel who viciously attacked Muslim youth and actively aided the Hindutva mob, continue to patrol the streets with impunity, and now brutalise the hapless and starving residents of Delhi in search of food and other rations.

While all this happens in the Capital, the situation in Kashmir is equally dire if not worse. While the lockdown in India commenced on 22nd March 2020, Kashmir has been under lockdown since the abrogation of Article 370 on 5th August 2019, causing immeasurable physical and mental harm to the Kashmiri people. The lack of mobility, scarcity of resources, restrictions on information, disruptions to work and education that people across the country face today has been a fixture in the lives of Kashmiris for the last 9 months. Furthermore, the country wide dearth of medical facilities is even more pronounced in the Kashmir Valley where the doctor to patient ratio is drastically below the country-wide average. Journalists like Masrat Zahra, Mushtaq Ganaie and Gowhar Geelani who have attempted to document the difficulties faced by the Kashmiri people, particularly during the spread of the COVID-19 virus, have faced the ire of the State and are charged under sections of UAPA and IPC. Notably, Peerzada Ashiq, a journalist who exposed the diversion of COVID-19 kits from Kashmir to Jammu has been similarly charged. It is a grave reflection of our times that even the performance of journalistic duties is deemed a terrorist act.

Targeting and marginalising Muslims on the Indian mainland and militarily repressing Kashmiris are nothing new for the Indian State. However, at a time when the material conditions of the broad masses have deteriorated severely and the State has adopted a Brahmanical Hindutva Fascist character, these actions must be viewed as part of the larger narrative of establishing the Hindu Rashtra. Efforts to degrade Muslims to second-class citizen status, attempted via the CAA, NRC and NPR, have continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The labeling of the Nizamuddin Markaz as part of a “Corona Jihad”, the boycott of Muslim essential service providers and the denial of medical care to Muslims, including pregnant Muslim women, are all part and parcel of these efforts. Mainstream media has drilled this communal narrative into the public discourse feeding prejudice and bigotry with sensationalist headlines and dubious reporting.

Today, a large section of the Indian masses face the dual risk of infection and starvation due to the BJP led Central Government’s refusal to bear responsibility to provide food and other rations during the lockdown. At such a time, when an eruption of popular anger against this complete disregard for the material conditions of the masses is possible, BJP led Central and State Governments and their lackeys in the mainstream media have made every effort to divert this anger towards the Muslim community. This narrative is being portrayed throughout the country in relation to COVID-19 and additionally in Delhi with regard to the violence in North East Delhi. This is a narrative that all democratic and progressive forces must condemn and combat.

Finally, it must be noted that the branding and targeting activists to demoralise and crush the movements they belong to is a tactic that the State is deploying with increasing frequency and intensity. Be it in the arrest of eleven academics, activists, lawyers, journalists and poets in the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case or the incarceration of Akhil Gogoi, Chingiz Khan, Ishrat Jahan, Dr. Kafeel Khan, Khalid Saifi, Sharjeel Imam and now several more, it is evident that the State is becoming more and more intolerant of any dissent or opposition. At such times, it is imperative that democratic and progressive voices speak out, else risk being silenced forever.

Campaign Against State Repression urges democratic and progressive organisations and individuals to condemn these charges against activists, journalists and students, demand that the arrested be released and the witch-hunt be ceased.

1. Immediately stop the witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir under the draconian UAPA.
2. Immediate release of all arrested activists and political prisoners in fabricated cases particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Immediate action (with restrain in light of COVID-19) against all the perpetrators of violence in North-East Delhi under the garb of cracking down on Anti-CAA protests.
4. Repeal of all draconian laws including UAPA, NSA and PSA, among others.

Campaign Against State Repression
(Organising Team: AISA, AISF, APCR, BCM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, BSCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, IAPL, IMK, Karnataka Janashakti, KYS, Lokpaksh, LSI, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, Mehnatkash Mahila Sangathan, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, NCHRO, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Janparishad, Satyashodak Sangh, SFI, United Against Hate, WSS)

BHRPC hails Supreme Court order granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen

April 17, 2011

The Supreme Court of India granted bail to Dr. Binayak Sen, an internationally recognised human rights defender on 15 April after a prolonged hearing. Dr. Sen was serving life sentence meted out to him on 24 December 2010 along with two others. Dr. Sen was charged with sedition under sections 124A read with section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He was also charged with working for outlawed Maoists under sections 8(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam (Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act), 2005 and section 39(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) on 31 January 2011 wrote to the Prime Minister of India and other authorities including the Chief Justice of India urging them to release him and repeal these repressive laws.

BHRPC hails the order of the Supreme Court of India granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen made on 15 April 2011 and reiterates (See earlier statement) its demands for a thorough and objective inquiry into the alleged conspiracy to falsely book Dr. Sen in order to intimidate other human rights defenders and to repress voice of dissent. BHRPC also urges the authorities in India to immediately release all other human rights defenders who are put behind bars unjustly.

BHRPC further welcomes the statement of Union Minister for Law and Justice that laws of sedition need to be revisited and urges the government to repeal/amend all repressive laws including the infamous Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958. BHRPC expresses its solidarity with Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur who has been fasting for more than a decade demanding repeal of the AFSPA.

Release Dr. Binayak Sen, Protect HRDs and Repeal Repressive Laws

January 31, 2011

Press Statement

For immediate release

31 January, 2011, Silchar

Release Dr. Binayak Sen, Protect HRDs and Repeal Repressive Laws

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) on 31 January 2011 wrote to the Prime Minister of India and other authorities including the Chief Justice of India to express its shock and deep concern at the incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen, an internationally recognized physician, health worker and human rights defender. He has been convicted on 24 December 2010 along with two others and has been sentenced to imprisonment for life. Dr. Sen has been charged with sedition under sections 124A read with section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He has also been charged with working for outlawed Maoists under sections 8(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam (Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act), 2005 and section 39(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

Reports show that the trial was unfair and failed to meet the standard of criminal jurisprudence and human rights norms. It is seen that documents have been fabricated by the police and false witnesses introduced. The judgment suggests that the judge has ignored evidence provided by the defence and has relied on hearsay evidence of the prosecution. Guilt of Dr. Sen has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, which is a primary requirement for conviction.

BHRPC believes that Dr. Sen as been targeted maliciously for his peaceful and legitimate human rights works and criticism of the government policy that violates international human rights norms. His prosecution is malafide; in fact it is a persecution. He has been made an example of by the state as a warning to other human rights defenders not to expose human rights violations.

Dr. Sen, giving up great career opportunities, dedicated his life in providing health care to the poorest people in the remote villages in Chattishgarh without access to public medical care, where he founded a hospital and trained women to provide basic health care. He also served as an adviser to the state government’s public-health committee until May 2007, when he was arrested. As human rights defender holding the positions of national vice president and president of Chattishgarh Unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a leading civil liberties organization in India, Dr. Sen documented numerous cases of gross human rights violations by the security forces and Salwa Judum, a private militia held to be sponsored by the Chattishgarh government in the name of fight against Maoists, an armed opposition group which also does not respect the rights of people.  Dr. Sen often raised his voice against the massacres of people by both the sides and appealed for dialogue and peace.

Human rights defenders like Dr. Sen provide services that should be provided by the government. They play a great role in upholding and fulfilling the constitutional mandates and establishment of the rule of law by documenting incidents of unlawful actions and atrocities of state agencies, offering legal advice and intervention and constructive criticisms of the wrong policies. They provide legitimate outlet for the grievances of the people. They are not the enemies but the friends of the state and people.

This has been recognised by the United Nations as well as by the government of India. The UN adopted a Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998 that provides for the support and protection of human rights defenders in the context of their work. The Indian parliament passed the Protection of Human Rights Act in 1993 that recognises the role of HRDs and mandates the National Human Rights Commission to support non-governmental organisations in their human rights work. But in reality people like Dr. Binayak Sen are persecuted and prosecuted under the same laws that were used by the British colonial rulers against people like Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

BHRPC believes that using repressive laws of colonial era against HRDs and innocent people and enacting new such laws empowering the law enforcement agencies to trample upon universally recognised human rights of the citizens is not the solution to the problem of unrest and insurgency. The rule of law, fundamental constitutional rights and universally recognised human rights must be upheld.

Many Indian laws meant to deal with insurgency and terrorism fall well short of the constitutional and human rights standards even keeping in consideration the derogation provided therein. Some of them have been struck down by the SC (for example, some provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985), some of them have been modified and their imports narrowed down (for example, section 124A of the IPC) and in cases of some others the SC provided additional guidelines to save them from unconstitutionality (for example, the National Security Act, 1980, the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 some special laws enacted by state legislatures including the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955 etc.). The UN Human Rights Committee and other organs continue to recommend the Indian state to repeal or amend such laws in order to make them compatible with the international human rights standards. However, these laws are maliciously being used against HRDs increasingly in many states in India.

BHRPC understands and hopes that legal questions in the case of Dr. Sen will be addressed in the High Court and Supreme Court expeditiously. But there is no judicial avenues to undo the damage done particularly to the mental and physical health of Dr. Sen who is a 61 year old heart patient, his family and friends by putting him in this legal wrangle. Facing trial in India is itself a punishment and deterrent. Human rights works in India and country’s image in the world have been affected adversely by this trial. This unfair trial has also put the Indian judiciary and democracy on trial before the international community. Further damage must be stopped and it can be done by releasing Dr. Sen and providing him with adequate reparation and by bringing to book those who conspired to falsely implicate Dr. Sen, fabricated evidence, committed perjury and unduly influenced the judge.

BHRPC, therefore, urged the authorities to ensure that (1) Dr. Binayak Sen must be released immediately and his appeal must be disposed of as soon as possible;  (2) An independent inquiry must be instituted to find out those who conspired to falsely implicate Dr. Sen, fabricated evidence, committed perjury and unduly influenced the judge; (3) Dr. Sen and his family must be provided with adequate reparation; (4) Human rights defenders must be provided full protection and special professional privileges; (5) Repressive laws such as section 124A of the IPC, the Chattishgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958, the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955 etc. must be repealed or adequately amended and brought in conformity with the international human rights standards.


Neharul Ahmed Mazumder

Secretary General, BHRPC

Click here to download copy of the letter to Prime Minister

BHRPC hails Supreme Court order granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen

The Supreme Court of India granted bail to Dr. Binayak Sen, an internationally recognised human rights defender on 15 April after a prolonged hearing. Dr. Sen was serving life sentence meted out to him on 24 December 2010 along with two others. Dr. Sen was charged with sedition under sections 124A read with section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He was also charged with working for outlawed Maoists under sections 8(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam (Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act), 2005 and section 39(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) on 31 January 2011 wrote to the Prime Minister of India and other authorities including the Chief Justice of India urging them to release him and repeal these repressive laws.

BHRPC hails the order of the Supreme Court of India granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen made on 15 April 2011 and reiterates (See earlier statement) its demands for a thorough and objective inquiry into the alleged conspiracy to falsely book Dr. Sen in order to intimidate other human rights defenders and to repress voice of dissent. BHRPC also urges the authorities in India to immediately release all other human rights defenders who are put behind bars unjustly.

BHRPC further welcomes the statement of Union Minister for Law and Justice that laws of sedition need to be revisited and urges the government to repeal/amend all repressive laws including the infamous Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958. BHRPC expresses its solidarity with Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur who has been fasting for more than a decade demanding repeal of the AFSPA.